Kathryn Hughes is the author of George Eliot: The Last Victorian, which won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Biography, and The Victorian Governess, which remains the standard text on the subject. Educated at Oxford University, she holds a Ph.D. in Victorian studies and now teaches biographical studies at the University of East Anglia. She is a Guardian book critic.
-The New Yorker
"A triumph . . . Hughes knows 19th-century England intimately .
. . the result is a narrative that could have come straight from
Trollope. Vicars and curates, tradesmen's families edging up the
social ladder, tangled marriage plots-for lovers of Barsetshire,
it's all here."
-Laura Shapiro, The New York Times Book Review "Peppy . . . Smart . . . Tells vivid personal stories . . . The author's intelligence never deserts her."
-Wendy Smith, Washington Post Book World "Enthralling . . . Having read Ms. Hughes, one wants immediately to read Beeton . . . [Beeton] speaks to the universal condition of female life."
-Barbara Amiel, Wall Street Journal "Absorbing . . . Excellent . . . Nostalgia for handmade items, worry over adulterated food, a healthy market for cookbooks . . . We have a lot in common with the early Victorian era, at least with regard to broad trends toward domesticity."
-Benjamin Lytal, The New York Sun "Scrupulously researched, definitive . . . Mrs. Beeton emerges as a fascinating blend of Betty Crocker and Emily Post, with a little Martha Stewart or Nigella Lawson thrown in for good measure . . . Hughes's searching social eye does wonders with the small cache of letters between Isabella and Sam, written during their courtship . . . She constructs a detailed picture of fashions and social customs at the high-water mark of the Victorian age. For readers of Dickens and Trollope, this section of the book is pure gold."
-William Grimes, The New York Times "A terrific book, filled with astute observation and telling detail about the growth of an idea, or fantasy, of domesticity . . . Later in life, [my mother] would sit around reading a facsimile edition of 'Beeton's Book of Household Management' the way another sort of person might read pornography . . . My mind reels when I think of what she would have thought had she lived to read The Short Life and Long Times of Mrs. Beeton . . . Mrs. Beeton, a syphilitic plagiarist? Golly. But in case you think I have just given away the whole story, I assure you, I haven't."
-Katherine A. Powers, The Boston Globe "Lively and authoritative."
-Entertainment Weekly, graded A "One of my favourite biographies of the year . . . a lively and fascinating reconstruction of the 'real' Isabella Beeton, unpicking her extraordinary posthumous legend with great skill, opening a wide window on to Victorian domestic and publishing history, and wearing its excellent sleuthing with a light grace."
-Hermione Lee, The Guardian "There is seemingly no aspect of Victorian life that Kathryn Hughes cannot assimilate and understand from the inside. This is living history, in which massive research and impeccable scholarship is handled with invigorating panache . . with verve and humor . . . This great gift of a book . . . makes us savour aspects of 19th-century life in order to sharpen our awareness of how we live now."
-Frances Spalding, The Independent "Splendid . . . A brilliant biography, which tells the absorbing, strange and sad story with great aplomb . . . You know that Kathryn Hughes would write a wonderful novel."
-Philip Hensher, The Spectator "Accomplished and hugely readable . . . Depicts the worlds of the Beetons with astonishing vividness and colour . . . with subtlety and precision . . . Much more than a biography, it is like a version in prose of a magnificent Victorian narrative painting, packed full of the strange, swarming richness of life."
-Lucy Lethbridge, Literary Review "A wonderful book, so masterful and scholarly, so detailed and wise, there will never need to be another. Hughes is an elegant writer and a capable digger; no stone, however small or inaccessible, is left unturned . . . She has done sterling work."
-Rachel Cooke, The Observer "Intelligent . . . Thoughtful . . . Elegantly written."
-Lucy Hughes-Hallet, Sunday Times "Brilliant . . . Excellent . . . A fascinating reconstruction."
-Nicola Humble, The Saturday Guardian "It is a testament to Hughes's wry intelligence that she can make Mrs. Beeton's sad and sometimes grotesque story so enjoyable to read."
-Bee Wilson, New Statesman "Altogether fascinating . . . Leaves very few corners of the mid-Victorian domestic interior unswept. From one angle it is a kind of history of the early woman's magazine; from another a re-imagined users' guide to Crimea-era domestic service. The amateur student of venereology will find much in it to relish and the historian of the Victorian pub will not be disappointed. At its heart, though lie the two equally vivid figures of Isabella Mayson and the man she married."
-D.J. Taylor, The Independent on Sunday "Illuminating . . . Kathryn Hughes deploys considerable gifts."
-Matthew Sturgis, The Sunday Telegraph